30 April 2012
In this photo taken in 2000, a young man stands in a field of Meskel flowers in South Ethiopia. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
We all know that “April showers bring May flowers.” So as April ends, we offer a springtime glimpse at what tomorrow may bring.
Ironically, these particular flowers are most popular later in the year, near the fall.
Meskel flowers symbolize the feast day, Meskel, in Ethiopia. They are used to line the streets during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which falls near the Ethiopian calendar’s new year in September. Last October, Gerald Jones, our regional director for Ethiopia wrote about this celebration.
27 April 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Christianity
Archbishop Fares meets with families after baptisms at Our Lady of Paradise Cathedral in São Paulo. (photo: Izan Petterle)
In the July 2011 issue of ONE, São Paulo based journalist Fidel Madeira reported on the Melkite Greek Catholics who have called São Paulo home for the past 100 years:
“In the Middle East, it is common for parishes to have on file the names and details of all the families in the area. Having those archives in hand helps our work. In São Paulo, on the other hand, people move around frequently,” says the priest. “And just the city alone is a world unto itself. Its vastness makes it hard for someone who does not live close to us to attend church regularly. But thankfully, they come to us on important occasions, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals.”
“By the grace of God, we manage to find ways to preserve our traditions,” adds Archbishop Fares. “But there is still much more to be done. For instance, I am trying to translate, in a more comprehensive way, our liturgy into Portuguese and bring awareness to the richness and beauty of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
“I have become acquainted with a new reality when moving to Brazil and now recognize the plurality of the Catholic Church,” continues the archbishop. “All the natural beauty — the endless forests, waterfalls with crystalline water — that I was hoping to find, I did find after all: in the hearts of the Brazilian people.”
For more, read Paradise in Brazil.
26 April 2012
Tags: Middle East Cultural Identity Melkite Greek Catholic Church Arabs
A dance group performs at the 34th annual Greek Festival in Salt Lake City.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
In the July 2010 issue of ONE, Cody Christopulos, the photojournalist who serves as our assignment editor, reported on the Greek community in Utah’s “Mormon Zion” — Salt Lake City — and efforts to preserve its cultural identity:
Today, the Greek Orthodox Church is the binding force for Utah’s Hellenic community. Father Matthew Gilbert, pastor of Holy Trinity Cathedral, describes the parish as very active, with no shortage of activities, especially for the youth. Still, says the priest, himself “Greek” by marriage, passing down the faith to the next generation remains a challenge.
“The hardest thing is the spiritual aspect. It’s nice to dance and to play basketball. We have Greek schools, dance programs, Orthodox Christian camps in the summer, Greek camp, Sunday school. We offer everything imaginable, but it’s up to individuals to cultivate their spiritual life. It’s always easier to cultivate the fun things, but a spiritual life is difficult. It takes a lot of work. Being baptized is the easy part. The rest is commitment.”
For more, read Greek Orthodoxy in Mormon Zion.
25 April 2012
Tags: Cultural Identity Greece
In this photo taken in 2009, an Elephant is adorned and presented during a temple festival in Irinjalakuda, Kerala. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
The Asian Elephant is a major part of Kerala’s culture. Elephants often appear in folk songs, folklore and place names. Today, they are used in Hindu temple festivals and as a tourist attraction.
To read more about Kerala and India, check out Msgr. John Kozar’s blog posts ”In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
24 April 2012
Tags: India Cultural Identity Kerala
Children play at the Caritas camp held at the Samta Park Sanitarium in Nunisi, a mountain town in Georgia’s Karagauli region. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
In the November 2007 issue of ONE, Paul Rimple reported on the invaluable effect summer camps have on children in the Caucasus:
“Many of the children come from very troubled families — very poor,” said Zizi Inadze, a staff member who grew up on the streets and, like Mr. Biganashvili, received assistance from Caritas. “Some had never seen fish or butter before, and even others never had seen a toilet. I was so shocked to see kids using a bucket, I couldn’t believe it.”
The camps of Sister Arousiag Sajonian and Father Witold Szulczynski are different in structure, but their aim is the same. They offer disadvantaged children a quintessential childhood experience that is normally available only to the more privileged. And it is a testament to the camps’ success that so many former campers have returned, as adults, to help educate the next generation.
A mere two carefree weeks can have an outsized impact on the children’s lives, said Ms. Inadze, the former street child who now works for Caritas.
“Here at the camps, they learn to open up and share a sense of warmth. They receive love and attention.”
For more, read Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus.
23 April 2012
Tags: Children Georgia Caucasus Tbilisi
A retired priest sits near a painting of St. Lawrence at the Beit Afram home for the elderly in Taybeh. (photo: Rich Wiles)
As we shared on this blog, last night “60 Minutes” aired a segment on the dwindling Christian community in the Holy Land. This is a subject near and dear to our hearts here at CNEWA. As is true in every country where CNEWA operates, our work in the Holy Land relies heavily on our collaboration with the local churches of the region. In the July 2011 issue of ONE, we published an article profiling the all-Christian village of Taybeh, which is located in the West Bank, just north of Jerusalem:
“Taybeh is the only entirely Christian village in Palestine,” says 70–year–old Ne’meh Issa proudly. Born and reared in Taybeh, Mrs. Issa has spent her entire life in the village. As do most villagers, she feels strongly about Taybeh’s Christian identity. “It is pure Christian and exists peacefully next to Muslim villages and also Israeli settlements.”
Though small with only 2,000 inhabitants, Taybeh is in fact the last remaining entirely Christian settlement in Palestine. Everyone belongs to one of its three churches. About 1,160 villagers belong to St. George Orthodox Church, which was built between 1929 and 1932 near the site of a fourth–century church. Another 530 belong to Christ the Redeemer Latin Catholic Church, built in l971. And about 310 belong to St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church, built in l964.
For more, read A Town Named ‘Good’. In addition to the segment that aired last night on “60 Minutes,” CBS News posted some web extras online, including a video report about Taybeh. Check it out below!
20 April 2012
Tags: Middle East Christians Middle East Palestine Palestinians West Bank
This image from 2007 shows how Eucharist and study are central in the lives of Coptic Catholic seminarians at St. Leo the Great, located in a Cairo suburb. (photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)
Latest reports indicate that Egypt continues to be rocked by political turmoil and protest:
Tens of thousands of protesters packed Cairo’s downtown Tahrir Square on Friday in the biggest demonstration in months against the ruling military, aimed at stepping up pressure on the generals to hand over power to civilians and bar ex-regime members from running in upcoming presidential elections.
We’ve reported extensively on the lives of Christians in that corner of the world. In 2007, the magazine profiled the Coptic Catholic Church, beginning with its very deep roots:
Egyptian Christians — known as Copts, a derivative of the Greek word Aigyptios, meaning Egyptian — are proud of their ancient roots. They received the Gospel from St. Mark the Evangelist, who brought the faith to the city of Alexandria, second only to Rome in the ancient Mediterranean world. There, he died a martyr’s death around the year 67.
The evangelist extended his apostolic activity beyond the city’s prosperous Jewish community. He called for the city’s Copts and Greeks to adopt “the way,” the early Christian description for discipleship in Jesus Christ.
Mark sowed the Christian seed on fertile ground. Centuries before the Arab advent in the eastern Mediterranean, and with it the rise of Islam, Egyptian Christianity blossomed. It provided the church with the philosophical foundation and theological vocabulary responsible for its explosive expansion in the Greco-Roman world, introduced the cenobitic and hermitic variants of monastic life and peopled the universal church with some of its greatest saints and scholars, including Pantaenus, Clement, Origen, Anthony, Macarius, Didymus, Athanasius, Arius, Cyril and Dioscorus.
19 April 2012
Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Africa
A mother and child visit the site where their new home will be built in the village of Podiyattuvila, Kerala. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Last month, CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar visited with some of the people and projects that CNEWA supports in India. Among those he met were the people of the village of Podiyattuvila, who were on the path to home ownership for the first time. Msgr. Kozar writes about his experience in the most recent issue of ONE:
It is with a sense of gratitude that she invited me to see what was, block by block and bucket by bucket of cement, becoming her home. She, her husband and neighboring helpers and parishioners are the contractors and builders. A humble gift of $1,800 made all this possible. CNEWA is assisting in building five such houses.
Your charity as a donor allows CNEWA to bring such dignity to countless suffering poor in India and many other countries. And perhaps the greatest expression of gratitude from the poor, besides the smiles and the obvious quiet pride, is the promise of prayers.
Read more about Msgr. Kozar’s experiences in India in the magazine and on the blog.
18 April 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Kerala Homes/housing
Markian Surmach, owner of Surma in New York City, shows off some of the store’s pysanky. (photo: Erin Edwards)
We’re still in the Easter season, so how about some eggs?
We showcase some of the remarkable and intricate designs of psyanky — traditionally decorated chicken or goose eggs — in the March issue of ONE:
“Things have certainly changed, but this store remains the same,” says Markian Surmach, the owner of Surma — a family-run shop in the heart of New York City’s historic Ukrainian neighborhood on the Lower East Side. “Just look at it,” he says, pointing to Taras Schevchenko Place across the street, where the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art recently built a state-of-the-art facility. The steel-and-glass building occupies the full length of the city block, casting a long shadow over Surma’s modest storefront in a prewar walk-up building.
For nearly a century, Surma has served the city’s Ukrainian community, selling products from the homeland, such as traditional embroidered clothes and accessories, artwork, antiques and Ukrainian-language book and newspapers.
“They find their culture, and they find themselves here,” says Mr. Surmach. “People come to the store in search of a simpler and less complicated way of life.”
Before getting lost in Surma’s labyrinth of authentic Ukrainian treasures, patrons pass by a small glass showcase near the entrance. Inside, dozens of pysanky, or traditionally decorated chicken and goose eggs, shimmer on display. Radiant red, yellow and orange eggs intersperse with others dyed cooler hues of blue, green and violet. Intricate Christian and ancient pagan symbols adorn the surfaces.
As with most Slavs of Eastern Europe — Croats, Czechs, Poles, Rusyns and Slovaks — Ukrainians have cultivated the art of egg decoration to commemorate Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
However, pysanky are also an intricate string in the collective fabric of Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent around the world. The designs serve as a living record and reminder of a shared, idyllic agrarian past.
“They’re not just eggs,” explains Mr. Surmach. “They have meaning. They represent a culture that respected the world around them.”
Read more here.
17 April 2012
Tags: Ukraine Eastern Europe Easter
A children’s choir performs at the Ethiopian Orthodox parish in Temple Hill, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. (photo: Erin Edwards)
In 2009, I had the opportunity to visit with and learn from members of the Ethiopian community in Washington, D.C. Washington is home to the largest group of Ethiopians outside of the country itself — pretty remarkable. You can imagine the amount of culture, history and tradition that flows through the city. From the Ethiopian restaurants to the Orthodox churches, there were many moments in which I felt as though I was in Ethiopia.
Check out my interviews below with some of the young women I met while in D.C. For more, read the accompanying article by Vincent Gragnani, America’s Horn of Africa in the March 2009 issue of ONE.
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Orthodox Church